Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse
Relying On the Word
I grew up in a family where God and religion were priorities. In fact, my parents' social life consisted mainly of activities at church or get togethers with church friends. My dad was even in the priesthood and served a stint as pastor. He preached often although he worked fulltime as a computer programmer, and he was extremely knowledgeable about all three of the books my church considers scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. To this day I can recite many scriptures verbatim because my dad quoted them so often (and I have a good auditory memory). Relying on the word--God's Holy Scriptures--was part of my everyday life.
Jeff Lundgren was also extremely knowledgeable about the scriptures. After working with him at the Kirtland Temple for several weeks, I heard his vast scriptural knowledge firsthand. Jeff even taught an adult Sunday school class in the local congregation of my church when I first arrived in Kirtland. It was shortly after Jeff approached me with the "Even though we don't agree on the issues" line that I decided to attend a Bible study he was starting for some of the tour guides at the visitors center.
We met after hours in the small library in the back of the visitors center. As I allowed myself to open up to Jeff and his teachings a little more, I learned a lot about him personally. He and his wife, Alice, and their four children had come to Kirtland from Independence, Missouri, the site of our church headquarters. His study of the scriptures (particularly the Doctrine and Covenants) had convinced him that the Kirtland Temple was a place brimming with spiritual power--a power just waiting to be tapped into by the faithful.
The idea of great spiritual power definitately intrigued me. I had been raised with an old church concept known as Zion, God's kingdom on earth. Early revelations given to Joseph Smith, Jr. and preserved in the Doctrine and Covenants indicated the heart of Zion was to be located in Independence, Missouri. Growing up, my father brought the topic up often, as did his mother before him. My grandmother was so enamored with the idea she had turned her big old Victorian house in a river town in Iowa into a weigh station of sorts--a place where people who were "fleeing to Zion" could stop and rest for a bite to eat or a place to sleep. I knew that, with all the problems in the world, great spiritual power would be required to establish God's kingdom on earth.
The scripture Jeff used to support his point was written by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1832. "Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the Saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation; for verily, this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house." (RLDS D&C 83:2a-b) Jeff pointed out two things about these verses. This revelation had been given in Kirtland, not in Independence. His emphasis was on the words "this place". He also pointed out that no temple had been built in Independence during Joseph Smith, Jr.'s lifetime. However, the Kirtland Temple had been erected during Joseph's lifetime.
Jeff had my attention. I was also one step closer to incorporating a more literal interpretation of scripture.
This story is continued at: http://cocoontobutterfly.blogspot.com/2011/02/to-trust-in-man-part-4.html
*(For more information on this incident, one of the best books written is Prophet of Death. the Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Earley. It's very detailed and uncomfortably graphic, but he did his research well. Earley gets to the heart of why Jeff and his followers acted as they did, without bias. Also, A&E did a segment of their show American Justice on this topic: American Justice: The Cult Murders.)